Local SEO Tips for 2019

Help customers in your area find your business

It’s simple: running a business today requires an online presence. Even if a mom-and-pop hardware store has been a community staple for forty years, it will be left in the past if there is no information about it online.

Advertising has changed and shifted to the online world and results are determined by strong search rankings. While optimizing your website for search has similarities to an advertising campaign in that the goal is attracting customers, the two are quite different. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves structuring your online business presence so that search engines can find your website in a query.

Building momentum with SEO takes patience and practice, and unlike advertising and PPC (Pay Per Click), there is no instant feedback on how well your efforts are doing. The process of SEO creates an organic growth of viewers and ranking. Customers have taken the reigns and find exactly what they are looking for...if their local business has the right tools in place.

When it comes to staying in business, a local operation needs all the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques deployed. Ramping up the visibility of a local company via SEO tactics is central in today’s marketing strategies.

Tailoring SEO to a local customer base will yield better results since many users base their searches on proximity. It is crucial to make it as easy as possible for the general public to locate a business’ contact info, location and hours of operation. This guide will help any local business get seen on Google’s first page, desktop, mobile and map apps.


Beyond Google My Business

It’s not just about the power of the Google My Business validation, your website is still a vital component in attracting new customers. Local SEO for business websites can be highly effective in bumping up your listing.

Keywords relating to location and neighborhood should be populated throughout title tags and in homepage copy as well as regular blog posts. If your business services multiple locations create features on each one with descriptives about the area and culture if possible.

A location-specific guide is also a great way to integrate your business into a local community. Local directory listings and blogs will take note and might even offer a feature.

For example:

Searching for “5 best pizza joints in Boise Idaho” yields Google Map’s search results at the top of the page with Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Foursquare as the main SERPs below the 3 Pack:

“Drycleaners of Bozeman Montana” displays the Google Map and 3 Pack with one business ranking above a Yelp link:

Even a highly competitive result for a search like “best burrito in San Francisco” yields the same 3 Pack style with popular local listicle blog posts from sites like Business Insider, Thrillist, and SF Eater at the top of the SERP:

Make sure your site is phone-friendly

A mobile-friendly website is a key component of online success. With the majority of local searches happening on mobile devices, it’s an obvious necessity to design and keep current with mobile trends. Make the process of finding your business as easy a possible for a local or a tourist. Google and other search engines will rank mobile-friendly websites higher than ones who aren’t.

The user-friendly, mobile-optimized website makes will hold a customer’s attention longer and become a trusted business, showing that you are tech savvy and conscious of the user experience.

Other services to use

While Google dominants the search engine landscape, be sure to claim your business on other popular search sites such as Bing, and business review sites like Yelp.

Bing

While Bing is not as popular as Google, it is still widely used and should be taken into consideration when implementing an SEO strategy. Bing is the third largest search engine in the world (YouTube is 2nd to Google), and widely used in the United States as an alternative and sometimes preferred website. By listing on Bing, your business will be visible to this audience that uses them as their primary search engine.

To claim your local listing go to Bing Places and follow their prompts in three easy steps. Like, Google, fill out all their necessary fields to claim, complete and verify your business listing. Bing makes it simple for all users, and best of all, it’s free. After claiming your business on Bing Places, they will display hours, location, contact information and also your Yelp profile and reviews.

Yelp

Yelp is a somewhat controversial website in that the power of the crowd can sometimes lead to misinformation or negativity in the review space. However, despite audiences’ knowledge of Yelp’s problematic reputation, customers keep returning to search for businesses near them. With over 80 million viewers each month, You cannot ignore Yelp when it comes to local SEO.

Yelp is a trusted website that ranks high in the SERPs and users expect to find a Yelp page for businesses of every type, not just restaurants, bars, hair salons, or mechanics. By maintaining an active Yelp page and replying to customers’ reviews, your brick-and-mortar establishment will appear more often in searches and lead traffic to your website as well.

Yelp requires some work on the part of the business owner to monitor and respond to any negative experiences that customers may have been angry about. This condition affords the opportunity to show that you care about customer experience and not just the bottom line.

Customers tend to trust outside reviews before booking appointments or purchasing products. A glowing review of your establishment can bring in a lot of new foot traffic. A best practice in local SEO is to incentivize customers to write reviews. Provide perks such as coupons or discounts for referrals and reviews on sites like Yelp and Google as a way to build visibility.

Keep your data consistent

All the listings across search engines and review sites should have identical and up-to-date information. This consistency is especially true for social media listings. Facebook may link to another service instead of Google Maps, therefore, if your address is correct, users can access your location on different map applications. Be sure to match your website’s contact data exactly to these other listings to avoid any confusion or complaints.

Use local directories

The phone directory and yellow pages business listings arriving in a heavy book on your doorstep are a thing of the past. They’ve moved online in the form of websites maintained by chambers of commerce and local business associations.

Google isn’t the only game in town when it comes to local SEO. By getting listed on smaller local and neighborhood websites, you plant your brand as a contributing member of a regional community. If there is a shopping center or town square near your physical address, be pro-active by approaching these websites with your listing information. Every link and backlink counts when it comes to contributing to a higher ranking.

Using a third-party service to help your business get listed on local search directories and chambers of commerce will save some time from what could be a tedious process. Companies such as Whitespark, LocalSEOHelp, and Brightlocal can take the pressure off manually approaching every marginal listing directory on your own, leaving you time to concentrate on building your website’s content and keywords.


Conclusion

Think of local SEO as your targeted marketing campaign. By following simple steps that emphasize location and reviews, your search ranking will have the chance of appearing in Google’s coveted 3 pack.

When customers are searching for a business in their area, adhere a few basic protocols to follow to once you’re up and running:

  1. Feature your location throughout your website with keywords, articles, and clearly placed, easy-to-find visibility on the home page.

  2. Keep your websites and listings up-to-date and optimized for mobile-friendly searches.

  3. Monitor and test these listings on a regular basis.

  4. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.

Local SEO is an ongoing process. If you prioritize Google My Business, while diversifying your presence across multiple search engines and review websites, you’ll be on your way to a consistent Page 1 ranking.

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